The Musée des Confluences in Lyon


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Musée des Confluences / Quentin Lafont
© Musée des Confluences / Quentin Lafont

Reading time: 0 minPublished on 4 May 2023

Telling the Story of Humankind

A nebulous structure made of glass, concrete, and steel sits at the tip of a peninsula, on the confluence of the Rhône and Saône Rivers. Lyon’s futuristic Musée des Confluences is worthy of its ambition to offer the keys to understanding the intricate field of human knowledge.

In fact, the Museum inherited over two million pieces collected from the 16th and today. Referred to as “the 21st Century’s Cabinet of Curiosities,” the institution’s finds relate to paleontology, mineralogy, zoology, entomology, and ethnography.

Visitors keen to understand the origins and evolution of life will be thrilled to discover the Museum’s treasures, which include mammoth and dinosaur skeletons.

Narratives for All

Spread over 3 000 square meters, the permanent exhibition is divided into four major sections.

  • Origins: Stories of the World stages a scientific and symbolic outlook on the origins of the universe.
  • Species: the Web of Life contemplates the relationship between Homo sapiens —as an animal— and the complex biodiversity in which the species evolves.
  • Societies: the Human Theatre observes the evolution of social structures, cultures, and knowledge.
  • Eternities: Visions of the Afterlife focuses on the perception of death in different cultures.

The sheer size, diversity and rarity of the collection reflect the Museum’s desire to open up to a wider audience.

Plith, Crystal, and Cloud

Architecturally, the new landmark in the city of Lyon is a stunning technical achievement. Two distinct building blocks emerge from the deconstructivist design.

The Crystal: Located north of the building, the massive steel and glass space encasing the main entrance hall is bright, transparent, and clear.

The Cloud —the core of the building— spreads over two storeys holding black-box galleries. The flowing shape of the steel-clad section resembles a spaceship.

The exhibition area hovers over a concrete plinth that contains two auditoriums, conference rooms, and technical spaces.

Sensory Experience

The Musée des confluences redefines the museum experience. For instance, taking pictures is allowed, as it touching certain objects. Visitors can also have a virtual conversation with a hologram of Albert Einstein.

Feeling peckish? Climb up The Cloud where a restaurant with a panoramic terrace awaits on the fourth floor. Or simply stop by the brewery restaurant on the ground floor for a quick bite. Visitors can choose to walk straight through to the outdoor space, under the belly of the Museum. Finally, a quick trip to the Museum’s shop is simply the perfect ending to a unique cultural experience.


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